I often get asked: “What’s your favourite street food?” Hint: I favour a particular category, not a single, specific menu item. I’ve mentioned it before… Can you remember, or even just guess what it is?
Souvlaki skewers: Fresh off the charcoal grill. Traditionally, lamb or goat; alternately,
pork or chicken. Ready to be swathed in a fresh, warm Pita topped with tomatoes,
pickled turnips, and shreaded lettuce, and doused in home-made tzatziki sauce.
– And always ask for ‘the works’ when ordering…
Sorry! No prize for the first correct answer. But there’s no detention tonight if you answer incorrectly, either. Just a little fun, and a rationale for my choice.
Here we go…
My overwhelming choice for favourite street food of all is… (Drum roll, please!) The Wrap. In all its forms and flavours, nuances and nationalities. There are three distinct types, each of which owes its distinctive character to the broad geographic region in which it originated:
First and foremost, I know that a true wrap is something cozied in a flour tortilla, a thin-walled Middle-Eastern style Pita, an Indian Dosa or South-Indian Lentil Pancake, or either an Asian Spring Roll (rice starch) or Egg Roll (pastry-style) shell. Examples include Burritos, French wraps, Shawarmas and the aforementioned Egg and Spring Rolls. My fave of fave types. Minimize the bread for me. Maximize the filling. Simplify the actual wrapping process. Produce a robust finished product that holds together well under all circumstances.
Second, the other major kind of bread-encased wrap is the thick-shelled style. Such as a Greek Souvlaki, a Gyro, a Shawarma, a Korean Banh Mi, or the like.
Third is the hybrid; broadly a pastry-covered or deep-fried bread style pocket, rolled or turned-over treat. Think: Quesadillas or Empanadas. Samosas, Garam Masalas or Curry Puffs. Cornish Pasties, Jamaican Patties. Calzones or Panzerottis.
‘Why’ is a little more complicated
Obviously, all the above mentioned menu items are perfectly suited to single-handed transportation and consumption.
Second, as an overall category, wraps and rolls have legitimate representatives in ancient cultures around he world. No shortage of authentic flavours and stuffings that have withstood the test of time and the influence of would be be conquerors who’ve tried to subvert real indigenous cuisines wherever they went.
Third, while largely savoury, wraps, rolls and turnovers also have a long and proud history as sweet desserts. Between the two styles, everything you might crave, optimized or grab-and-go.
Fourth, the convenience of pre-portioned food forms makes sharing and serving simple. No arguments between the kids that Joey’s calzone is bigger than Dougie’s.
Fifth: Dipping, which s apparently coming back into style, with the French Roast Beef Dip bunwhich leading the parade, is enabled conveniently and elegantly, with a minimum of fuss and mess.
Long story short…
Give me a wrap, in any of its traditional, authentic forms. Anywhere, anytime. And I’ll be happy!
So… What’s YOUR pleasure, when street food beckons?
~ Maggie J.